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Why is this so interesting to know?

Why is this so interesting to know?

Mushrooms aren’t just found in space Star Trek: DiscoveryAnd organisms are also a problem in reality. Because astronauts are never alone on their space journeys. His luggage is always with him: various species of fungi that remain inactive during launch and flight into space, but then “activate” and multiply in space, leaving thick, overgrown blankets on the space station.

These fungal blankets not only endanger the health of astronauts, but also infect electronic devices and sanitary facilities on the station. But instead of fearing the dreaded fungal invasion, scientists are trying to capitalize on it and understand why fungal species thrive in weightlessness.

It all started in 1988

In 1988, when astronauts were on the decommissioned Russian Mir space station, they were horrified to discover that something was covering one of their windows from the outside. This thing began to make its way inside the station, slowly but surely destroying the surface of the titanium quartz window.

It later turned out that the discovery was actually a fungus that traveled into space with the astronauts. The amazing thing: Not only were the fungi able to survive and adapt to the space environment, they were also able to live on windows, control panels, air conditioners, and cable insulation.

The Mir space station suffered from a fungus in 1988. (Image: NASA)

The fungus can be dangerous to astronauts

Water and food supplies have also been contaminated with fungi. Since then, researchers have been trying to create cleaning procedures to remove fungi from walls and equipment to prevent the organisms from causing serious damage.

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But scientists also realized that studying the growth and behavior of fungi in weightlessness could be useful to crews during future long-duration manned space missions.

The hypergravity experiment is intended to help understand mushrooms

An astrobiology team from the State Key Laboratory for Lunar and Planetary Science at the Macau University of Science and Technology in China recently made this submission Hypergravity test on mushrooms during. To test the growth of fungal colonies under twice the Earth’s natural gravity, the researchers used the European Space Agency’s high-speed centrifuge at the Estec Technical Center in the Netherlands.

The Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) is an 8-meter-tall, four-armed centrifuge that gives researchers access to hypergravitational forces of up to 20 times Earth’s gravity.

This will enable scientists to better understand how fungi manage to survive effortlessly in the space environment.

What the test should do

The research team cultured the fungal species until it was fully grown, then screened it for genetic or “phenotypic” stress responses.

Next, one of the selected fungal species was exposed to a second generation of hypergravity to see whether stress responses or changes were maintained or whether cumulative effects could be observed.

Fungi are a particular problem in closed rooms

“The International Space Station had its own problems in the rooms where crew members train. Due to the high humidity there, the walls became contaminated with fungi. To prevent this, cleaning and disinfection procedures must be implemented,” explains Marta Filipa Simoes, who leads the project from the Macau University of Science and Technology. “regular.”

Mushrooms on the International Space Station ISS

The fungus was observed on the International Space Station growing on a plate from Russia’s Zarya module where sportswear was hung to dry. (Image: NASA/ESA)

In an enclosed space like the International Space Station, there could be a serious problem if biofilms form that fungi use to stay in place. “This can be dangerous because fungi can also cause infections or allergic reactions in astronauts whose immune systems are already weakened in space. Conversely, microgravity conditions appear to promote the growth of many fungal species, and part of our current study is Trying to better understand why.

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“We will never get rid of mushrooms.”

Some fungi will always end up in space because tough fungal spores can stick to all kinds of surfaces, including the human body. In practice, spacecraft cleanrooms are not completely free of fungi, as biological studies have shown.

“We will never completely get rid of fungi when we venture into space, so we need to understand them,” said Andre Antunes, part of the research team at the Macau University of Science and Technology.

“They could be used in future space settlements to meet various types of needs, including recycling or extracting essential metals from planetary surfaces. These are seen as essential to reduce costs and ensure the sustainability of human spaceflight.”

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